Megadeth Interviews


On the Phone with Dave :: Out to Lunch :: So Far, So Good for Megadeth :: Rust in Peace :: Dave the Human, Mustaine the Artist :: A Founding Forefather of Thrash :: The Outside Corner :: Music Is Our Business... And Business Is Good :: Deth Rally :: Trial by Fire :: Megadeth Conquers Globe :: Megadeth: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered :: Shooting from the Hip :: I Made It Home Alive! :: So Far, So Good... Now What? :: Megadeth: Online and Onstage :: Sodom and Gomorra :: Metal Is Still Their Business... But Who's Buying? :: Shooting from the Hip II :: Country and Western :: Metal Church :: Get in the Van :: Foreclosure of a Team :: Last Men Standing :: Without the MTV Support :: Set the World on Fire :: Dave Mustaine University :: Heavy Metal Marines :: The Real Line-up of Megadeth :: Risk Factor :: The World Will End in Megadeth :: Megadeth: Crush'em with Ferocity and Finesse :: An Ugly American :: Try to Sue Capital Records! :: Big Boys :: We're Pissed Off Again :: Dave Mustaine's Symphony of Reconstruction :: It Wasn't Fun Anymore :: Metallidethica :: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Been Asking :: Dave Ellefson: Life After Megadeth :: Die Another Day

Die Another Day

taken from Guitar World, August 2003
Dan Epstein talks to Dave Mustaine


When Dave Mustaine disbanded the legendary Megadeth last year due to a "compressed radial nerve" his career was thought to be over. In an exclusive "Guitar World" interview the guitarist explains what happened and reveals his plans for a comeback.

On April 3, 2003, Dave Mustaine shocked the metal world with the announcement that he was disbanding Megadeth. For nearly 20 years, Mustaine's ferocious playing and unflagging commitment to metallic excellence had consistently kept Megadeth on the cutting edge of thrash, even while various lineup, management and substance abuse difficulties threatened to capsize the band.

Now it was all over, the band a victim of a "compressed radial nerve" in Mustaine's left arm and hand, an injury that quite possibly spelled the end of the guitarist's playing career.

Since then, fans and industry observers have speculated on the "real" reasons behind Mustaine's hiatus and on whether or not Megadeth was truly finished. But with the exception of a couple of terse postings on the band's website (www.megadeth.com) and a brief solo acoustic performance this past April at a benefit for the family of the late former Megadeth crew member John Calleo, precious little had been heard from Mustaine himself.

Until now, that is. Completely out of the blue, Dave Mustaine called up "Guitar World" one recent afternoon to tell us about ESP's new Dave Mustaine signature DV8 model. In addition to his smokin' new ax, we discussed the state of his health, his involvement in Capitol Records' upcoming 20th anniversary campaign of Megadeth reissues, his plans for a solo album and the uncertain future of Megadeth.


Dan Epstein: After all those years playing Jackson Flying V's, why have you now switched to ESP?

Dave Mustaine: Well, Jackson came up for sale a couple of times and I wanted to buy it, and then each time the sale was pulled. And then they tried to sell it a third time - I was contacted again by somebody within the company who said they wanted me to buy it, because we'd been friends for such a long time. And while we were positioning ourselves to buy the company they sold it to Fender, which I thought was a bit disrespectful knowing that I'm the number one endorser they had. But I let go.

DE: Did you head straight to ESP from there?

DM: I contacted Hamer, Gibson, and EEP. Hamer is a really small company, so they were going to have a hard time keeping up with what I want for my endorsement, let alone answering the sales orders that people put in because of the guitars I endorse. I talked to Gibson and they were excited but they could not reconfigure the guitar to be a 24 fret guitar, so I was kind of handcuffed there.
So I talked to Marsh Gooch, Matt Masciandaro, and Jose Ferro at ESP. They said, "We have a V, but we discontinued it because no one's endorsing it." I went into their warehouse and I picked up one of their flying V's - it was called a V350 at the time - and I went, "Fuck this thing's awesome" and I said, "Yeah, I'm willing to play this guitar, if you're willing to make a couple of changes on it to make it even better." So we made some changes with the body, the headstock, some of the inlay stuff, and the knobs and electronic configuration.

DE: What kinds of changes were made to the electronics?

DM: Well, they only had 2 knobs, and I wanted to have the separate volume knobs, a tone knob, and a three way position pickup selector. And I wanted to make sure my fingers could reach the volume knobs with my palm on the bridge. Everything is the same as the Jackson Y2KV was - it's the ebony fretboard, 24 frets with the small fret wire, and it's got the basic dot inlay, except that the first fret's got an 8Ball, because the guitar's called the DV8. The pickups are Seymour Duncan's, the Jeff Beck humbucker in the bridge, and the Jazz in the neck. They got it sent back out from their builders last week, and I picked it up two days ago in their office. I was like, "Fuck this thing's awesome!" I told them, "If there was any doubt from anybody of why I went to ESP, just hold one of these fuckers."

DE: This obviously must mean that you're playing again.

DM: Yeah. I had a little setback with my left arm, back in January of 2002. I had a compressed radial ulnar nerve. I couldn't grasp anything, I couldn't move it from left to right, nothing. I did about four months of physical therapy, a lot of praying, and a lot of just eating right, taking supplements - vitamins and minerals - and rest, and just a lot of stretching and exercising outside of the physical therapy that I would do five times a week. Oddly enough, because I was doing two-hour metal calisthenics toward the end of Megadeth's tenure, I had also developed some tendon damage in the small finger of my left hand. So everything turned out for the better, because my hand healed during the time off.
It was really interesting; it was like god touched my hand to make me stop what I was doing, to make me take a look at everything. I looked at my family, I looked at my relationship with my wife, I looked at the band, I looked at my career, I looked at the damage that had taken place to my hand, prior to the nerve getting hurt. And I just took a sabbatical. And things are better for me right now than they were before it happened. I came out on the other side of this way, way blessed, because my relationship with my kids, and wife is good, and the music that I'm writing right now, I think is as good as anything I've ever written.

DE: What about your relationship with the other Megadeth guys?

DM: You know, David Ellefson and I have been through a lot of stuff, and when I first told him that I was going to leave the group, he was obviously upset, and I don't know that he really believed that I had an injury to the degree that I had. All Pitrelli, he's a great player, but he'd just gotten married, and I don't think that he wanted to be in a band. But I'm happy for him that he's doing what he wants. Jimmy DeGrasso, that was kind of a weird thing; I got a really offensive phone call from his girlfriend. Actually, I'd just called to look for him, and she'd gotten in my face, and I haven't talked to him since. It's like "Dude you know what? I don't care how good you are; your old lady needs to chill." When somebody's wife is talking to the boss like that, that's unacceptable.

DE: There were rumors that you weren't injured at all but that you were just going back into rehab.

DM: Oh, I did! I did. I had a kidney stone, and there was something that happened. You go five years without doing any drugs, and they reintroduce narcotics into your system and I just said, "You know what? I can't do this." And I decided that I wanted to get my system cleaned out again. It wasn't like I was shooting heroin or anything like that. I basically wasn't feeling good, and I went to a treatment center to go get healthy, and to reestablish my understanding of what I need to do in order to be healthy.

DE: Was this after you broke up the band?

DM: No, it was before that. It had just gotten so hard to be around all the guys in the band, and the management was so fucking horrible at the time - everything they said was basically just not true. I had moved over to Spain for six weeks and a bunch of concerts that they had set up there were a lie. I had moved my family over there, and I was supposed to come home to the place we rented every week. And then these fake, bullshit shows that they had confirmed with an unknown unproven promoter disappeared. And that was hard on all of us.
When Marty Friedman left, I had started to get fed up with how the band was being run. And when Nick Menza was let go that's when the band should have broken up. Because it was never the same. Granted, Jimmy's a good drummer, but it was never the same. And once Marty left, it was like, who are you trying to kid here? Al's great, but it's kind of like fucking Credence Clearwater Revisited.
I am and always will be Megadeth. But if you're doing something that you don't want to do, and you're unhappy about it, and you've got an allergy to certain stuff, and the bottom falls out, and you're stuck on the other side of the world and you don't want to be there, and they say "Well, this show got canceled, and you're going to have to do four more on all your days off to make up for it." You know what? The thought of going and having a cold one sounds pretty good! And so I had a moment of clarity - I'm going down a road that I don't want to go down again. I just went and got myself sorted out, and that's when I had the moment of clarity that the band is just not happening anymore. Megadeth is a legend and I'm not going to cheapen it like some of these bands that keep going long after they should.

DE: Is there still the possibility that it might resurface again?

DM: What, Megadeth? Or me doing dope?

DE: Either.

DM: Well, you know if you're a drug addict, the chance is possible that you'll always do it. But the thing about Megadeth getting together - I don't know. Oddly enough, Marty Friedman called me last night. I talk to David Ellefson every once in a while, and I've been talking to Nick Menza. We spent a long part of our lives together, and even though it all ended up kind of weird, that's the band. I care a lot about those guys, and if the circumstances were right, I would certainly consider it - if it was healthy, and it was good for me, for my lifestyle now, and the family that I rebuilt.
I'm not going to tour again. I'll be planning on doing some concerts, but a bona fide, get in the bus, pack your suitcase, and go out for four months thing, I won't be doing that again. It just doesn't appeal to me. Touring is really hard, especially when all you've got is the people you're surrounded with, and they're conspiring to get more money out of you, or making you do shit that you don't want to do - no thanks, man. I'll go home.

DE: Do you have a solo project in the works?

DM: Well, I'm hoping to have something for the beginning of 2004. Obviously, I want to be very particular about the people I play with, because I have played with some of the greatest guitarist in the metal community. I don't plan on forming a new band; I just want to find some players that are great, that want to go out with me and do some dates, players that I can go into the studio with and I'm not going to have to recut their shit when they leave.

DE: Whats going on with the Megadeth back catalog?

DM: Well, for the 20th anniversary of Megadeth, Capitol is planning on reissuing every record that we ever did with them. They're also planning on putting out an anthology record and possibly a "rare tracks" record. I went to New York and Los Angeles to look at the vaults and check out the catalog that was there, and I found a lot of versions of songs that had never been released, and songs that weren't completed. It'd be really interesting to go into the studio and complete the tracks - just put on a vocal and solo. And they also want to do a DVD of all the videos. Sanctuary - which is what Megadeth is still signed to - they want to put out a couple of rare CD's to help offset the whole Megadeth going into mothballs kind of thing. And we had an acoustic performance we did in Toronto for Music Plus; Sanctuary wants to do something with that.

DE: is it true that there's a 5.1 DVD-audio of Peace Sells... But Who's Buying? in the works?

DM: Yeah. I went out to Burbank and met up with a guy named Mack, who had produced a bunch of stuff for Queen. The guy was so cool; he's just the neatest little old dude. He found out that one of the tracks had a technical error to it that I wasn't aware of at the time, a drum problem. I mean, at that time, because of the narcotics that everyone was doing, we were just lucky that Gar stayed awake through the whole session. We were just luck to get that stuff down on tape. But when it came to the mixing, I didn't catch it; it was basically some kind of compression problem. But because the technology is different now, we were able to fix that little thing.
When Mack finished the DVD, and I heard it back for the first time, I'm sitting there experiencing it again like it was a rehearsal, like Gar was still alive and Chris was right there and Junior
[Ellefson] was there. I got to tell you, I got really melancholy because of the loss of Gar. And just to close your eyes and picture the whole thing going down. OH it was freaky. Déja vu is such a gay term, but I totally relived the moment. It was like being in a time machine.

DE: I've talked to so many young bands lately that view Peace Sells... as the ultimate touchstone of "Real Metal".

DM: Well, I'm hoping that I'm going to do something that's going to give those people an opportunity to use a new touchstone. I was so close to it; it's kind of like you can't see your nose on your own face, where you don't really realize the impact that you have on these people. Deep down inside, I always wanted someone to say "Hey, you know what? You did good, Dave!" Of course, you've got this current generation of guitar players citing they're influences, and their influences were all influenced by me or James Hetfield. And it's like "Hello? You may be influenced by Joe Shmoe of Metal Jockstrap from Hungary, but I was his hero!"


On the Phone with Dave :: Out to Lunch :: So Far, So Good for Megadeth :: Rust in Peace :: Dave the Human, Mustaine the Artist :: A Founding Forefather of Thrash :: The Outside Corner :: Music Is Our Business... And Business Is Good :: Deth Rally :: Trial by Fire :: Megadeth Conquers Globe :: Megadeth: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered :: Shooting from the Hip :: I Made It Home Alive! :: So Far, So Good... Now What? :: Megadeth: Online and Onstage :: Sodom and Gomorra :: Metal Is Still Their Business... But Who's Buying? :: Shooting from the Hip II :: Country and Western :: Metal Church :: Get in the Van :: Foreclosure of a Team :: Last Men Standing :: Without the MTV Support :: Set the World on Fire :: Dave Mustaine University :: Heavy Metal Marines :: The Real Line-up of Megadeth :: Risk Factor :: The World Will End in Megadeth :: Megadeth: Crush'em with Ferocity and Finesse :: An Ugly American :: Try to Sue Capital Records! :: Big Boys :: We're Pissed Off Again :: Dave Mustaine's Symphony of Reconstruction :: It Wasn't Fun Anymore :: Metallidethica :: Answers to the Questions Everyone's Been Asking :: Dave Ellefson: Life After Megadeth :: Die Another Day

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